Emotions are powerful and drive our decisions and our behaviors. They change us at a cellular level and are transformative. Positive emotions transform our lives for the better by broadening our awareness and by bringing out the best of us.
Barbara Fredrickson has spent her career studying positive emotions. She is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology in the department of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also the Principal Investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab (PEPLab).
Fredrickson explains that the degree to which we experience positive emotions predicts whether we will languish – barely hanging on to life – or flourish – being full of beauty and possibility and remarkably resilient!
So would you rather languish or flourish?
We replace one percent of our cells each day and within a season we have replaced all of our cells. But our cells renewal doesn’t just follow a pre-determined DNA script and our emotions do affect its pace and its form. When we increase our daily diet of positive emotions we change who we are and who be become. In order to change for the long run we need to start by doing it on a daily basis. It is a bit like moving a river, it doesn’t happen overnight and requires persistence and repetition. But the benefits for our well-being are huge. One of the techniques Fredrickson recommends is loving-kindness meditation.
Positive emotions increase our mindfulness, which is our ability to be present and in the moment. They improve our close and trusted relationships and improve our resilience, which is our ability to bounce back from difficulties and manage our daily challenges. They reduce our health problems such as headaches, stomach pains, impacts our heart and many other conditions. We get better, stronger, more socially connected, more resilient versions of ourselves and also changed at a cellular level and the shape we’re in at a fundamental level.
The way to this path is to take one moment at a time allowing more positive emotions moment by moment into our lives and following their light to the path of flourishing.